Friday 22 September 2017

RTE may re-enter live National League market to fill Premier gap

GAELIC GAMES Colm Keys

RTE's decision to end their highlights coverage of the Premier League could put the national broadcaster back in the market to cover league hurling and football games live in the future.

At present RTE's live coverage of Gaelic games finishes with the conclusion of the championship and does not start again until the following May when a new championship season gets under way.

Even the International Rules series against Australia has been broadcast live by TG4 in recent years.

RTE has come in for some criticism in the past for its failure to show any live GAA matches from the end of September until the middle of May.

That leaves almost seven and a half months without a live match on the main terrestrial channels available in this country.

In addition to the International Rules, TG4 have cornered the market for live and deferred Sunday afternoon GAA coverage of club and league hurling and football throughout the winter and spring months and regularly schedule in third level and inter-county U-21 games too.

Setanta Sports showed 15 Saturday night league hurling and football matches earlier this year.

The GAA agreed new broadcasting contracts at the end of 2011 and they don't come up for renewal until the 2014 championships are completed.

By then, the national broadcaster may have re-entered the market for live league encounters.

The coverage of all games is split up into different packages with league games on Saturday nights and Sundays kept apart.

RTE are understood to have bid for these in the past, but have been well beaten by their rivals, suggesting a lukewarm level of commercial interest on their part.

For promotional purposes, the GAA are conscious that games shown on RTE will generally attract higher viewing figures, so the absence of any games for such a lengthy period from September to May has to be a concern.

Irish Independent

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